Last season the Ski Club of Great Britain challenged themselves to visit 7 different ski resorts in just 7 days across the Tirol region. Their mission was to not only explore the ski slopes but to immerse themselves in local culture and visit as many tourist attractions as they could squeeze into their 24 hour days. Thank you Tom for taking us along!
Having visited the Tirol many times over the past ten years I’m happy to say it is a region of the Alps that I have come to love. The mountains are striking, the valleys beautiful and the villages and towns are what us Brits refer to as ‘chocolate box’.
Although I’m ‘au fait’ with the stunning scenery and brilliant skiing, until recently I knew very little of the Tirol’s people and deeply rooted cultures. So last January, in an effort to submerse myself deep in Tyrolean culture, I assembled a small film crew from the Ski Club of Great Britain and toured around seven ski resorts in just seven days. With so many world-class ski resorts in such close proximity and a huge array of activities to do away from the mountains I was confident that I’d see another side to this beautiful part of Austria.
Landing in Innsbruck there are literally dozens of ski resorts within a short drive from this historic city. Over the next seven days our journey would take us to St Anton am Arlberg, Ischgl, Obergurgl, Nordkette, Axamer Lizum, the Zilleral Arena and Kitzbühel. Amazingly all of these resorts are within two hours of the city centre. You could be sat sipping coffee in Innsbruck’s old town then stood 1600 metres above the valley floor staring down at the city through one of the Nordkette’s steep narrow couloirs in just twenty minutes! This really is a very easy region of the Alps to navigate, especially if you have an appetite for exploration.
Despite a slow start to the 2015 winter season we were blessed with some amazing snow conditions, a foot of fresh snow greeted our arrival to St Anton and from that moment we knew that the skiing across the Tirol was guaranteed to be good. From Nordkette’s intimidating couloirs to Zell Am Ziller’s perfect tree runs and Obergurgl’s beautifully sculpted pistes we skied and snowboarded on every type of terrain you can imagine. That’s the beauty of this region, the skiing in the Tirol is so varied, from glaciers to forests this skiing region really does have it all.
As we had only given ourselves seven days to complete our mad dash across the Tirol I was sceptical about how much we’d discover about each resort and more importantly whether we’d find the time to get to know the locals. This concern was only exacerbated by the fact we’d also managed to pack our schedule with a ridiculous amount of activities off the mountain. Learning how handmade skis are made at the SPURart workshop, relaxing at Längenfeld’s impressive thermal spas, and launching ourselves down the Olympic Bobsleigh track in Igls were just some of the many activities we tried our hands at on our adventure.
Needless to say we achieved our goal, skiing all seven resorts before the deadline and taking part in a host of fun and interesting activities. But did we have time to really get to know the local people and sample Tyrolean culture? Of course we did, after our amazing week in January I can confidently say that Tyrolean’s are some of the kindest and friendliest people I’ve ever had the fortune to meet. It was surreal spending time with St Anton local and Olympic Gold Medallist Mario Matt, drinking Bavarian beer with the Godfather of Après Ski behind the scenes at the Mooserwirt, and sharing knee-deep powder with Freeride World Tour veteran Matthias Hauni. If this journey has taught me anything it’s that the people of the Tirol are the real highlight of this amazing region, they are without a doubt the glue that binds this beautiful region together.
Tom Ewbank – A Londoner who spends as much time on the mountains and in the ocean as he does at the office, much to the frustration of his colleagues. Tom is the Ski Club of Great Britain’s video producer and travels around the world filming and photographing action on and off the slopes.